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Junkyards, Gearheads, and Rust

Salvaging the Automotive Past

David N. Lucsko

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The material appeal of the automobile junkyard goes beyond the search for second-hand parts.

What happens to automobiles after they are retired but before they are processed as scrap? In this fascinating history, David N. Lucsko takes readers on a tour of salvage yards and wrecked or otherwise out-of-service cars in the United States from the point of view of gearheads—the hot rodders, restoration hobbyists, street rodders, and classic car devotees who reuse, repurpose, and restore junked cars.

Junkyards, Gearheads, and Rust is a nuanced exploration of the business of dismantling wrecks and…

The material appeal of the automobile junkyard goes beyond the search for second-hand parts.

What happens to automobiles after they are retired but before they are processed as scrap? In this fascinating history, David N. Lucsko takes readers on a tour of salvage yards and wrecked or otherwise out-of-service cars in the United States from the point of view of gearheads—the hot rodders, restoration hobbyists, street rodders, and classic car devotees who reuse, repurpose, and restore junked cars.

Junkyards, Gearheads, and Rust is a nuanced exploration of the business of dismantling wrecks and selling second-hand parts. It examines the reinterpretation of these cars and parts by artists as well as their restoration by enthusiasts. It also surveys the origin and evolution of gearhead-oriented yards that specialize in specific types of automobiles; dissects the material and emotional appeal of the salvage yard and its contents among enthusiasts; and examines how zoning and nuisance ordinances have affected both salvage businesses and hobbyists.

Lucsko concludes with an analysis of efforts during the last twenty-five years to hasten vehicular obsolescence at the expense of salvage yards, mechanics, and enthusiasts. By examining how cars are salvaged, repurposed, and restored, this book demonstrates that the history of the automobile is much more than a running catalog of showroom novelties.

Reviews

Reviews

[Lucsko] covers a lot of new and interesting ground in describing America's car culture, both its history and its technology.

This thoroughly-researched book belongs in the library of all historians who are interested in the business, cultural and environmental aspects of automobility. It also deserves careful attention from historians of technology who study maintenance, sustainability and recycling, as well as technological subcultures of adapters, tinkerers and creative re-users.

At times, a knowledge of automotive history and manufacturers would be a plus for readers, but this book is a treasure hunt through the wheels and fields of old car history that anyone with a hint of interest in the topic will enjoy, with no special knowledge necessary... Highly recommended.

Junkyards, Gearheads and Rust is above all an elegy to the open junkyard and the enthusiasts’ subcultures that they supported, to, in Lucsko’s words, ‘Saturday afternoon strolls through weed-covered relics’ (p. 132)... Well-researched and clearly written, Junkyards, Gearheads and Rust is a welcome and often thought provoking, evocative, and exuberant addition to the scholarly literature on Americans and automobiles.

In this engaging book, Lucsko vividly articulates the culture of yard owners and users. The resulting book is a major work in discard studies and a valuable contribution to our understanding of automobiles as objects with histories informing their present and future value.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
280
ISBN
9781421419428
Illustration Description
10 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
1. The Automotive Salvage Business in America, 1900–2010
2. Parts, Parts Cars, and Car Enthusiasts
3. Arizona Gold
4. Junkyard Jamboree
5. Not in My Neighbor's Backyard, Either
6. Of

Preface
Introduction
1. The Automotive Salvage Business in America, 1900–2010
2. Parts, Parts Cars, and Car Enthusiasts
3. Arizona Gold
4. Junkyard Jamboree
5. Not in My Neighbor's Backyard, Either
6. Of Clunkers and Camaros
Coda
Notes
Essay on Sources
Index

Author Bio
David N. Lucsko
Featured Contributor

David N. Lucsko, Ph.D.

David N. Lucsko is an associate professor of history at Auburn University. He is the author of The Business of Speed: The Hot Rod Industry in America, 1915–1990.
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